Monday, November 23, 2015

Late September reptiling

At the end of September, Ed and I spent several hours at our favourite reptile site in Peterborough. We made detailed notes of where each creature we found was seen, so we didn't repeat any records. Our totals at the end of the day included a minimum of a 71 reptiles (including one unidentified snake, seen very fleetingly by Ed). These broke down as
Slowworm: 30
Common Lizard: 20
Grass Snake: 12
Adder: 8 (2 adult males, 3 newly born males, 3 newly born females)
Young male Adder (about 6 inches long)
Adult female Adder (I nearly accidentally brushed by this snake as it basked on a bramble at about waist height, and it hissed persistently for several minutes!)
Two young female Adders (about 8 inches long)
Common (Viviparous) Lizard
Young Grass Snake

Kittiwake (deceased)

This adult winter Kittiwake was freshly dead on the shore of Gunwade Lake, Ferry Meadows CP on Friday 20th November. It was a calm sunny day after a windy few days which had blown plenty of seabirds to inland waterbodies. I have only ever seen two living Kittiwakes in the Peterborough area, so this was a scarce find for me, as well as a sad one...
Note the clean yellow bill; grey nape; limited black on wingtips with very small white spots; short, square to slightly concave tail tip. Also the legs and feet were nearly black.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Taiwan Day 7

We started the last day at Huisun Forest Park, where a morning wander down the hill brought some more blue magpies and some better views of a family of the endemic Taiwan Rock Macaque. We also saw our first Taiwan Hill Partridge and Taiwan Bamboo Partridge at a Swinhoe's Pheasant feeding station
Taiwan Rock Macaque
Taiwan (Formosan) Blue Magpie
Grasshopper sp.
Malayan Night Heron

Taiwan Day 6

Most of Day 6 was spent at the raptor watchpoint at the southern end of Tawian at Sheding Park. We were on the look out for Grey-faced Buzzards, but wee were too early in the year (the resident Tawiwanese birders who manned the watchpoint for months, did pick one up at distance, but I didn't see it!). Instead, the highlight was watching hundreds of Chinese Sparrowhawks passing over (though their sense of direction was curious). Most birds must have roosted reasonably locally, as the main passage was in the first few hours of daylight.
Additionally, we saw Crested Goshawk, the odd Oriental Honey Buzzard, a couple of Besras, a few distant Crested Serpent-eagles and a few Orinetal Pratincoles (plus an Ashy Drongo). A group of Taiwan Green Pigeons were the only ones we saw on the trip.
Chinese Sparrowhawks
Oriental Honey Buzzard
Taiwan Green Pigeon
Black-naped Monarch (female), Jacana Nature Park, Guantian
Tiny dragonfly, jacana Nature Park, Guantian

Friday, November 13, 2015

Taiwan Day 5

From the mountains we passed down south and west to Tainan city and a grand hotel (Shrangri-la) overlooking the university. It was not a huge drive from here to the Ougi Wetlands to wath their famed wintering flock of Black-faced Spoonbills, as well as a nice collection of Asian waders. There were 75 spoonbills in the distant flock. Long-toed Stint and Yellow Bittern were both new birds for me.
Black-faced Spoonbills
Yellow-bellied Prinia
Lesser Sand Plover
Long-toed Stint
Marsh Sandpiper
Yellow Bittern In the afternoon we ventured south to the Manzhou area where we started our first bit of migrant raptor watching and ticked our first Chinese Sparrowhawks. More were to come on the next day...
Brown Shrike
Dragonfly sp